$86K in fines issued to N.B. COVID rule-breakers since start of pandemic

·2 min read
Police across New Brunswick issued 321 tickets that amounted to more than $86,000 in fines for violating COVID-19 emergency order rules. (Alexandre Silberman/CBC - image credit)
Police across New Brunswick issued 321 tickets that amounted to more than $86,000 in fines for violating COVID-19 emergency order rules. (Alexandre Silberman/CBC - image credit)

Police officers across New Brunswick issued tickets amounting to at least $86,794.50 for persons found guilty of breaking rules under the province's COVID-19 emergency measures order.

The amount is tallied from 321 tickets officers issued between March 2020 and July 2021, according to Geoffrey Downey, spokesperson for the Department of Justice and Public Safety, in an email to CBC News.

Meanwhile, another 18 convictions under the Emergency Measures Act are either pending a penalty or the offender was released with or without conditions.

Another 327 tickets were issued, and most would have been paid without attending court while some would have been withdrawn. Downey did not give a dollar amount for the tickets paid by offenders who didn't attend court.

Another 124 are still before the court, 71 have been withdrawn and five have resulted in acquittals, Downey said.

The tickets were handed out by police enforcing New Brunswick's COVID-19 pandemic emergency order, which took effect on March 19, 2020 with the invoking of the Emergency Measures Act.

The act granted the province extraordinary powers not normally available, such as requiring people wear masks and limiting how many people they could have at their home.

Those powers officially ended at midnight on Friday, with the decision by Premier Blaine Higgs's government to not renew the emergency order as part of its plan to reopen the province, given a climbing vaccination rate and decreased COVID case numbers.

New Brunswick RCMP Assistant Commissioner Larry Tremblay had the job of co-ordinating law enforcement across the province during the state of emergency, and said officers only ticketed people under "extreme" circumstances.

Ed Hunter/CBC
Ed Hunter/CBC

"So from the onset, it was a question of working with the public we serve and the application of the principle of a very, very measured approach when it comes to enforcement," Tremblay said.

"You will not enforce yourself out of a health crisis, so our role was to first educate, apply fair warning, and only in extreme measure did we resort to enforcement."

Throughout the emergency order, Tremblay said the officers had to enforce the slate of new rules, along with carrying out their regular duties, with no access to extra resources, which "put tremendous stress" on officers.

Tremblay said he has mixed feelings now that the province is in green, with pride in the role officers played in keeping numbers down, coupled with a sense of caution over how things might proceed.

"We are remaining cautious in order to be in a position that should there be another outbreak or should the situation change rapidly, that we will remain in a position to be able to respond effectively," he said.

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